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Federal ruling has unclear implications for same-sex adoption in Arizona

A recent federal ruling has abolished Arizona’s ban against same-sex marriage, meaning that married same-sex couples in the state now enjoy the same benefits as heterosexual couples, according to the East Valley Tribune. The court’s decision upholds the findings by lower courts in a number of states that a ban against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Arizona, questions are being raised about the validity of other state laws that favor heterosexual couples over same-sex couples, such as when adopting a child.

Joint adoption

Current state law, according to the Arizona Daily Sun, restricts joint adoption of a child to heterosexual married couples. If a same-sex couple wants to adopt, only one of the partners can be considered the legal parent of the adopted child. The preference for heterosexual couples in Arizona’s adoption law can create serious and unforeseen problems. For example, if an adopted child is raised by a same-sex couple but then the legal parent passes away, the surviving partner does not automatically have parental rights over the child.

Since the federal ruling has voided Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage, it is unclear whether other laws, such as the adoption law, also mean that same-sex couples must be treated the same as heterosexual couples. The attorney general, for example, claims that the federal ruling likely only affects marriage and does not extend to other laws that provide different rights for same-sex versus heterosexual couples.

Court fight looming?

Not everybody agrees with the attorney general’s assessment, however. Attorneys and gay rights advocates say that the federal decision likely means that other laws that provide for different treatments of same-sex and heterosexual couples should now be considered unconstitutional.

Some believe that the state needs to only change the wording of the laws to reflect the new reality of legalized same-sex marriage and equal rights for same-sex couples. If, however, the state refuses to change the laws then further court battles could be on the horizon to determine the constitutionality of Arizona giving preference to heterosexual couples in the adoption process.

Family law concerns

As the above article shows, family law is constantly evolving both in the courts and the legislature. It is understandably difficult for most people to keep up with the latest changes, but in many cases these changes could have a significant impact on their own families.

As such, anybody who has a current issue regarding a family legal matter, including adoption, divorce, or child support and custody, should contact a qualified family law attorney. An experienced attorney can give clients peace of mind by helping them resolve their pressing family law issues.

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